Despite initiatives to increase the proportion of staff from ethnic minority groups across the Civil Service, progress has been slow. The overall ethnic minority proportion has risen to 7.6 per cent, but this figure conceals the acute under representation at the higher management levels.The Civil Service Race Equality Network was launched last year with the remit to set up an umbrella network. It now provides a forum for representatives from departmental minority ethnic networks and advisory groups to share best practice and to exchange and co-ordinate information and ideas.
At the Equality Network’s first conference held yesterday, Sir Andrew Turnbull, the new Head of the Home Civil Service, pledged his commitment to tackling minority ethnic under-representation in the Civil Service. The conference also received backing from the Prime Minister who sent his strong support and repeated his commitment to increasing the diversity of the Service.
Under the theme of “What’s Holding You Back” the programme included workshops and a panel debate on race and diversity. Contributors included representatives from blue-chip companies, Sir Nicholas Montagu, the Civil Service Diversity Champion, Gary Younge, columnist with the Guardian and Paul Boateng MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Data on ethnicity is collected from surveys within departments and agencies and there are doubts about whether it is complete. To meet these criticisms the Cabinet Office issued new survey guidelines in August and it is hoped that this will help to maximize response rates.